Masters of Content: People Under The Stairs

“I came through the door, I said it before” content is king (Rakim, “Eric B. is President” 1985). As someone that still buys CDs and vinyl records, I tend to expect a little more now with my purchases since I know they are so easy to make. If I can fabricate your CD, then there is a good chance I really don’t want to buy it. That does not mean I will not, good friend of mine. I just wish you took a little more time making something that I can justify keeping on the shelf that inevitably collect dust on a mantle somewhere.

I featured the latest video from People Under The Stairs on here and I just got their new album in the mail. Come check me out as I open my new collector’s item.

Let me clarify, PUTS have been putting together clever merchandising arrangements since way back. They understand the value of “limited edition.” The first single off their new record was only available on vinyl and there was only 500 copies made. The Stepfather album had the first “fan club” write-in program that I have seen since the early 90s, along with other hidden gems all over the CD/DVD project. I cannot forget my die-cut 10″ single of “Tuxedo Rap (remix).”
Along with PUTS, there have been many others that have put together really cool packaging and accompanying swag to go with their music projects. Hip hop is no stranger in that regard. It is just surprising how little it happens though. See this post as a “call-to-action” for artists to spend more time on what they plan to sell to their fans.

Look to acts like People Under The Stairs or Nine Inch Nails for guidance on how to create interesting merchandise that people are willing to buy. The more effort you put into your work, the more you can feel confident charging your fans to buy it. Oh, it helps if what you sell them will increase in value over time too. *wink wink* Here are some suggestion bullets to focus on:

  • No CD-Rs or forms of media that have limited lifespans. Cassette tapes are okay, but I advise against it.
  • Signatures go a long way sometimes.
  • While you do not have to spend a killing on what plays the tunes, you should spend extra on whatever is going to hold it. Paying Shepard Fairey whatever his asking price to design your CD artwork might be a good move.

I will elaborate on this some more in a future piece. I am more interested in finding more music artists that are putting out cool merch for fans to collect. PLEASE SHARE YOUR FAVORITES IN THE COMMENTS.

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  • @TheMicSmith

    That was very interesting and inspiring. I’m definitely going to brainstorm.
    .-= @TheMicSmith´s last blog ..TheMicSmith: Mr. @TheGovenur just showed up, time to operate on his iPhone =-.

    • Hubert Sawyers III

      @TheMicSmith, thanks for the comment. I am glad you are inspired by the post. I look forward to seeing what you create!

  • Alex

    I like the idea of putting effort (and money) into a high-quality package… especially as everyone has started to realize that the music itself is no longer a product that is easily sold. The package adds more substance to the purchase from the consumers perspective.

    With that being said, you have to know who you are trying to sell this package to. Not all artists appeal to a demo that would be into this kind of thing. You think the kelly clarkston fans care about a heart-shaped limited addition vinyl record (as the dude mayor hawethorn recently put out) or those r kelly-branded condoms (I made that one up… I hope)? Probably not.

    • Hubert Sawyers III

      @Alex, thanks for your comment. You are definitely right, my man. Artists definitely need to do their due diligence and do some market research to see what their fans would be interesting in buying from them. At the same time, they need to trust their own preferences as the items should maintain the personality of their brand.

  • yoyopo

    sup gam!

    i wanted to link you to this emcee duo I saw – they put out their album on a yellow cassette tape but if you bought the tape then that also gave you access to a digital download of the album. So you get a nice piece of limited edition retro merch but also you get to rock it on your ipod or whatever.

    couldnt for the life of me remember their name though so maybe it wasn’t that successful!

    • Hubert Sawyers III

      Yoyopo! If the artist ever comes to you, please feel free to share it!